For better or for worse, business, social life,
entertainment, and shopping depend increasingly on screen and keyboard. Some
try to resist it, but few are wholly immune. Everything is so much easier
online, given a fast connection.
For most businesses, the ability to sell, source, communicate
internally and externally, and do what used to be called “paperwork”, online
gives a decisive competitive advantage, to the extent that it is all but
So it is all too easy to forget that many people do live
without anything like a decent connection.
Even in Britain,
supposedly a “developed” nation, three million homes cannot get access to a
broadband service offering more than two megabits per second – already the bare
minimum for most practical purposes – and 1% of Britons cannot get broadband at
all. In America some 40%
of households don’t have broadband access.
This has obvious significance for businesses choosing a
location. In particular, those who imagine themselves running a service sector
business from their homes often find that the internet connections at their
cottage in the country are incapable of coping with the high flow of
information often associated with such enterprises.
Yet the greatest significance may be for those businesses
located in areas where connections are good. It is all too easy for them to
assume that everyone else enjoys the level of service they take for granted. So
they load up their websites with the latest flashy gadgetry – ignoring the fact
that what makes a site attractive to some will make it inaccessible to others.
Those who keep their websites simple have an advantage over
their competitors – easier access to millions more potential customers.